Archive by Author

Cigar Review: Heritage 1492 Tradicionales Robusto

5 Aug 2015

This cigar looks so nice, it’s hard not to wonder whether it can match that impression when you smoke it.heritage-1492

It can. And does.heritage-1492

This entry from Global Marketing & Distribution (GMD) is a class act from start to finish. Rolled at Hendrik Kelner Jr.’s Dominican factory, the Heritage 1492 Tradicionales is a medium-strength smoke with excellent construction and lots of flavor.

The first taste is a bit of grass-hay, not surprising given the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. It diminishes throughout the first third, almost disappearing by the second half. Other flavors rise along the way. I noticed leather, nuts and some sweetness, though never the “fresh pastries” GMD mentions in its marketing material.

The binder is from Nicaragua and the filler is a combination of U.S., Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos. Construction on the three I smoked was nearly perfect, with a great draw, burn and level of smoke.

According to GMD — a relative newcomer to the cigar world that continued to add to its portfolio this year — the finished Heritage cigars are aged a year before going to the marketplace.

The regular line has five sizes, of which the 5×52 robusto sports the largest ring gauge. There are also two big Edition Especial sizes under the Heritage 1492 Tradicionales brand: a 6×56 Gigante and a Bellicoso Gigante at 6×60. These, said to be spicer and more intense, have a Cubra Brazil wrapper.

The robustos I smoked were provided by GMD. This is a cigar worth seeking out, whether you’re a beginner or a long-time smoker.

At $12 for the robusto, it’s on the higher end. I think it’s a fair price, and certainly plan to keep an eye out for more. To me, it seems the kind of cigar that is most suited to smaller vitolas; I’d be most interested in trying the half-inch shorter Rothschild.

This cigar earns a high rating of four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Figaro 1943 Habano VX Robusto

3 Aug 2015

Crafted in Miami by Figaro Cigars, this line is relatively new to the market. If it isn’t on your radar—frankly, it was completely new to me—it’s well worth checking out.

Figaro-1943Featuring an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder, the Robusto starts with a fiery kick. It doesn’t overwhelm, though, and tends to wind down a bit as you move into the second half of the five-inch frame.

Along the way, there’s some sweetness, which is also present in the pre-light aroma on the wrapper, and a strong leather component, especially in the second half. There’s a nice overall balance to the cigar, and I found myself enjoying each of the three sticks I smoked more than the one before.

The 50-ring gauge Robusto isn’t a complex cigar, but the flavors it delivers are good from start to finish.

It’s the kind of cigar you could smoke on a golf course or watching a game and realize when it’s over that you thoroughly enjoyed it. Or you can pay more attention as you smoke it and find yourself rewarded with an even greater level of enjoyment.

I’d put the strength level at the upper end of medium.

Construction on the samples I received from Figaro was excellent. I was concerned at first because the pre-light draw seemed very open, but that wasn’t a problem when it was lit. And that held when the cigar got a conventional guillotine cut, a V-cut, or a punch. (I tried all three.)

Smoke production was robust, and the burn extremely straight. The ash held tight as well.

The MSRP is a more-than-reasonable $6.99. There are two other regular Figaro cigars: a 6 x 60 that lists for $8.99, and a 6 x 52 for $7.99.

This cigar likely won’t blow you away, but it is also unlikely to disappoint. I think it would be a great choice for someone looking to move up from milder cigars to something with a tad more Nicaraguan pop and for anyone looking for a good, straight-forward smoke.

The Figaro 1943 Habano VX Robusto earns a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Oliva Serie V Special V Figurado

1 Aug 2015

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.

seriev-fig

I’ve long enjoyed Oliva Serie V cigars, but I hadn’t smoked this exquisite vitola until recently. Quite simply, I think the figurado is the best of the line. From the first light of the tip, when it explodes with pepper, to the leathery, sweet end, it’s a terrific cigar. Smooth, powerful, tasty, complex, typical first-rate Oliva performance. The tapered body—6 x 60 at its largest—seems to focus the flavors. At a bit over $10, it is truly worth every penny, and more.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Oliva

Cigar Tip: Trying to Taste More

29 Jul 2015

13803951455_395bae037b_z

Perhaps no topic generates more interest among new smokers—and many long-timers—than the question of how to detect flavors in cigars.

“Isn’t it all just tobacco?” is a typical inquiry.

Well, yes, it is all tobacco. But you can say the same for a lot of other things we experience with our taste buds. They’re all apples, for example, but a Granny Smith has a vastly different texture and taste than does a Golden Delicious. Or, it’s all wood, though who would confuse the aroma of Aromatic Red Cedar with American White Oak.

Opening your mind—and, consequently, your nose and taste buds—to the potential of discovery is, I believe, the first step to expanding what you perceive in your cigars.

There are any number of ways to do that. You can explore flavor wheels, fill out tasting sheets, sniff spices in the cabinet, and take numerous other approaches to improve your palate. And they’re probably all worth trying.

One caution, though: While exploring tasting processes in other areas, such as wine, spirits, or coffee, bear in mind that they’re often done with several examples simultaneously. Few of us smoke more than one cigar at a time.

My goal here is to provide some context for your approach, and to broaden your viewpoint as you explore cigar aromas and flavors.

Don’t look for exact matches. Think more of what you taste as suggesting a flavor, not replicating it.

1. Concentrate at first on common flavors, such as coffee with a maduro, pepper with a Nicaraguan puro, or grass with a Connecticut wrapper.

2. Try to focus on smell as well, since that’s a significant component of taste.

3. Roll the smoke around in your mouth before you exhale to increase the exposure to your taste buds.

4. Don’t try too hard. Everyone’s senses differ, and our perceptions are not always the same. Some have a higher developed capacity of taste, while others don’t. It’s not a contest to see who can pick out kala jeera or fennel pollen.

If you pay attention and note what you detect, I can almost guarantee you’ll find yourself discovering more and more with each cigar.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: When More Can Be Too Much

14 Jul 2015

IPCPR15

If there’s one word that seems to unite most cigar makers, it’s “new.”

The seemingly irresistible urge to introduce new blends, new line extensions, new brands, new tobaccos, new curing methods, and on and on reaches its annual pinnacle at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show, which starts this weekend in New Orleans.

Ironically, though, if you ask most cigar retailers to name their top-selling brand, the answer you’ll likely get is Padrón, a manufacturer that rarely introduces anything new. The old-school company isn’t particularly invested in social media, either, but it burned up the online cigar community with its recent announcement of a new Connecticut line.

Of course, if you’re a cigar manufacturer competing for shelf space with companies like Padrón, Altadis, General, Fuente, and others, having something new might seem like your safest bet. But is there a risk in going too far in that direction?

I thought about this the other day when I was smoking a Kristoff Galerones Intensivo. I picked it up for about $9 at a shop I visit occasionally because it was a chance to try a stick I hadn’t had, and one about which I’d heard good things.

It was a very enjoyable smoke, combining solid strength with spice, cedar, and coffee. The three-country filler blend (Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Honduras) worked well with the Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper.

So, I wondered, how come I’ve smoked so few Kristoff cigars?

The answer, I’ve surmised, is the same as for some other brands I rarely light up, such as Rocky Patel or Ghurka. It’s not that I have anything against them or their cigars. In fact, I’ve smoked some that I liked a lot.

But, overall, brands that have so many lines and so many new entries lose my attention and focus. Even when I smoke something I like from them, it tends to get lost in their plethora of cigars.

Truth be told, even someone like me who spends quite a bit of time reading about cigars and the industry, as well as listening to podcasts, just can’t keep up with everything.

With IPCPR, there’ll be a raft of new releases. I’d like to try them all. That, of course, isn’t possible, so I’ll smoke the ones I can find, try to remember the ones I don’t, and possibly add one or two discoveries to my list of favorites.

And I’m sure there’ll be quite a few that I miss.

George E

photo credit: IPCPR

Quick Smoke: Avo Movement TAA Limited Edition

11 Jul 2015

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Full body, full flavor, and full enjoyment is the only way I can describe this 2013 Avo release for shops in the Tobacconists’ Association of America. A pressed toro (6 x 52), the Movement fits with quite a few Avo limiteds by presenting a stronger and spicier cigar than many may still associate with the brand. It begins with a shot of pepper and a sugared-coffee sweetness. Along the way, the pepper rises and falls, as numerous other flavors weave in and out. It’s a bargain at $11.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: N/A

Quick Smoke: Crowned Heads The Angel’s Anvil Toro

5 Jul 2015

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

angels-anvil

This year’s Crowned Heads’ exclusive for Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) retailers is a gorgeous Toro (6 x 52) with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. Said to be a bit stronger than last year’s TAA limited edition, there’s a nice deep, earthy, and nutty beginning that makes some transitions along the way, including a bit of spice and sweetness. I certainly enjoyed The Angel’s Anvil and thought it worth the $10.50 price, but I find several other Crowned Heads offerings to be more impressive smokes.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys